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World news in brief

19 May 2023


Member of the Texas Tactical Border Force on security detail near El Paso at the end of last week

Member of the Texas Tactical Border Force on security detail near El Paso at the end of last week

Texan Christians seek support at the border

THE Episcopal diocese of West Texas is calling for volunteers and donations to help serve the hundreds of migrants and asylum-seekers arriving every day on the border with Mexico, Episcopal News Service reports. At the Plaza de Raz Respite Center in San Antonio, a partnership between the diocese and the Southwestern Texas Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the daily number of people in need of assistance has doubled to 300. Its shortages of volunteers and supplies are expected to worsen after the expiry of Title 42 restrictions: issued by the Trump administration, the policy blocked land entry for migrants at the US border, and allowed federal authorities to expel more than 2.8 million migrants, many of whom, still hoping to cross, stayed in Mexico. On Sunday, the Homeland Security Secretary, Alejandro Mayorkas, said, as reported by US border-patrol agents, the number of migrants crossing the border since the expiry of Title 42 had halved.


Dates confirmed for next Primates’ Meeting

THE next Primates’ Meeting will be held in Rome from 29 April to 2 May 2024, the Archbishop of Canterbury has announced. It would gather the leaders of the 42 member churches for “leisurely thought, prayer and deep consultation”, he said on Wednesday. The dates were decided in consultations with the Secretary General and the Primates’ Standing Committee — five Primates chosen by their regional colleagues to represent them on the Anglican Communion Standing Committee. The agenda is to include an exploration of “issues of structure and decision-making in the Anglican Communion”, and a review of the part played by the Standing Committee. The updated Lambeth Calls will be published after Pentecost.


QR codes to tackle ‘gyrovagues’ in France

THE Roman Catholic Church in France is to provide bishops, priests, and deacons with digital ID cards with scannable QR codes, in an effort to tackle sexual abuse, the TV network France24 reported this week. By scanning the code, people will have access to colour-coded information on the holder which will indicate whether his ministry is subject to restrictions. Details were published by the Bishops’ Conference on 5 May. Bishops have already received the cards, first proposed after the publication of the Independent Commission on Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church, which concluded that more than 200,000 people had been sexually abused by priests and religious over the past 70 years (News, 8 October 2021). The editor-in-chief of the RC magazine Témoignage Chrétien, Christine Pedotti, told France24: “Priests known as ‘gyrovagues’ — as in, suspended from their duties but who continue to present themselves as priests in religious communities — are quite common.”

Julian of Norwich celebrations receive papal blessing

THE Pope has sent a message of blessing to all those participating in events marking the 650th anniversary of the Revelations of Julian of Norwich (Features, 5 May). The message, read by the Bishop of Norwich, the Rt Revd Graham Usher, to the congregation at a service in Norwich Cathedral on Sunday, said: “The profound significance of this English mystic for the Christian tradition speaks to us from across the centuries and is increasingly being acknowledged and celebrated. Indeed, her maternal influence, humble anonymity, and profound theological insights stand as timely reminders that faith in God’s loving providence and holiness of life expressed in generous service to our brothers and sisters in need, are timeless truths underpinning not only the life of Christian discipleship but the very fabric of a just and fraternal society.”


Pope speaks of women’s capacity for giving

IN AN address to a rally of the World Union of Catholic Women’s Organisations, held in the Vatican on Saturday, Pope Francis told the 1500 women gathered that there was “a need for greater appreciation of women’s capacity for relationship and giving”, Vatican News reports. “Men need to better understand the richness of the reciprocity they owe to women, in order to recover those anthropological elements that characterise human identity and, with it, that of woman and her role in the family and society, where she does not cease to be a beating heart.” He urged them to learn from Mary, who “teaches you to generate life and to always protect it, relating to others from tenderness and compassion”.


Governments express solidarity with Iraqi cardinal

REPRESENTATIVES of 11 European countries, including the UK, have expressed support for the Chaldean Catholic Patriarch of Babylon, Cardinal Louis Raphaël Sako. He has been subject to hostility on social media after criticising the “Babylonian Brigades”, a paramilitary organisation and political party that describes itself as Christian — despite being aligned with pro-Iranian Shia militias, La Croix reports. The organisation won four of the five seats reserved for Christian candidates in the 2021 parliamentary elections. The statement of support, published on Sunday after a delegation of ambassadors met Cardinal Sako, expressed “our solidarity regarding the recent public attacks against his person and our concern for the Christians and other religious communities of Iraq”. Last Friday, 200 Christians gathered in Tahrir Square, Baghdad, to demonstrate solidarity with the Cardinal.

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